5 Must-Haves For A Seminar

5 Must-Haves For A Seminar

As a modern dog trainer, you most likely enjoy furthering your education via seminars.  They are even better when you can score a working spot with your dog.  But it is important to remember some essential supplies for both you and your dog to ensure you both have a fun, safe experience.


Image taken by Liz Wyant

Image taken by Liz Wyant

All seminars have down time between working sessions.  During this time, you want to make sure your dog has a safe, comfortable place to relax and recharge.  A crate is preferable to a mat because the leash can come off and they can easily curl up and take a snooze without worrying about other dogs getting in their space.  Obviously it’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable being crated with other dogs around.

Water And Treats

This one is for both you and your dog.  Though some seminars provide snacks and beverages for the human half of the equation, it is still a good idea to bring your own just in case.  Also, you will obviously want to make sure you have plenty of water and treats for your dog.  Your dog will be working hard and will appreciate fresh, cool water and plenty of treat rewards.

Pen And Notepad

If there are going to be lecture portions of the seminar, which most do have, you’ll want to make sure you have writing materials so you can take notes.  Nothing worse than having the presenter say something brilliant and then not being able to remember it later.

Business Cards

Seminars are fantastic for networking!  Make sure you have a stack of business cards you can share as you meet new people.  And make sure to get their cards, too.  It’s always fantastic to have plenty of options for referring/consulting.

Sense Of Humor/Open Mind

Murphy’s Law is right – if something can go wrong, it will.  Being able to maintain a sense of humor will keep you relaxed, thereby keeping your dog relaxed.  It is so important to remember that yes, you are there to learn and improve your skills, but your dog’s happiness needs to come first.  You’re there to bond with your dog and improve your teamwork.  If you are getting stressed out, your dog will shut down and tune you out and have a miserable time.

What do you find imperative to bring with you to a seminar?

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6 Lessons Learned From Ian Dunbar – Dog-Dog Aggression

6 Lessons Learned From Ian Dunbar – Dog-Dog Aggression

ian dunbar apdt conference 2014

Dr. Ian Dunbar is the founder of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT). He is known as a leader in the humane training movement and is a national advocate for proper puppy socialization. We attended his talk during the APDT Conference in Hartford and have consolidated some of the best points.

Preventing Your Dog From Being Attacked

One behavior that is so incredibly simple its scary can save a client’s dog from being attacked. One of the biggest triggers for fights is hard eye contact from one or both dogs. Asking your dog or a clients dog to turn in front of you and give you eye contact can single-handedly prevent dog fights. This behavior keeps you dog’s eye on you and their back to the other dog. This behavior doesn’t have to be on cue. Simply lure the dog in to the position and continue feeding until the strange dog has passed. This behavior sends the message that your dog is not interested in engaging in any way with the strange dog. What kind of dog is going to instigate a fight with a dog who’s turned his back?

Continuous Training Isn’t Optional

Just like in people, anxieties get stronger as the dog ages. Puppies and children are not born with phobias or fears, but as they get older their anxiety increases. This is the reason clients must understand that training is not a one time commitment – it is a lifetime commitment. It should continue throughout the dog’s life to prevent regression.

5 Reasons Puppies Are Not Socialized Correctly

Dr. Ian Dunbar mentioned that owners have 5 usual excuses for not properly socializing a puppy.

  1. Fear of disease.
  2. Fear of overwhelming a puppy.
  3. Puppy already seems to be well-adjusted.
  4. Unable to recognize puppy’s warning signs.
  5. Denial and the expectation that the puppy will grow out of problem behavior.

Dr. Dunbar claims that socialization is very important in preventing dog-dog aggression, but many owners fail at doing this correctly. Owner education is the solution to this.

Differential Classical Conditioning

While classical and operant conditioning are not exclusive from each other, you must give rewards to the dog no matter his behavior in order for classical conditioning to occur. Differential classical conditioning means treats when the dog is showing desired behaviors (no barking, sitting, etc) and verbal praise or lower valued treats when the dog shows a slight reaction such as growling. Here is the breakdown:

  • No trigger – No rewards.
  • Trigger present, small reaction – Give verbal reassurance. Increase distance in the future.
  • Trigger present, no reaction – Jackpot with rewards.

This process allows the trainer to reward desired behaviors more strongly while maintaining classical conditioning during all exposures to the trigger.

Using Secondary Reinforcers For Classical Conditioning

We all know that bringing food into a strange group of dogs can cause issues. Using a secondary reinforcer that is only valuable to your client’s dog and not other dogs will help prevent resource guarding issues. Lots of work must be put into making a secondary reinforcer strong enough to use for classical conditioning, but it is a great alternative to using food in training.

The Jolly Routine

This training technique was founded by Bill Campbell in the 1980s. Stiffness and anxiety fuel reactive dogs. Clients can overcome their anxiety by putting their training to a rhythm. This makes their learning progress more smoothly as well as their dog’s. The jolly routine involved acting very excited and happy when the trigger appears. Dancing is usually involved to truly get in the groove and eliminating anxiety. It is very difficult to feel upset if one is dancing. Dancing and treating are perfect accessories to a classical conditioning protocol.

We enjoyed learning about Dr. Ian Dunbar’s perspectives on dog behavior and his concepts behind treating dog-dog aggression. What do you think about these main points? 

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